Bad News Usually Travels Fast

Except in Scottsdale.

In fact, if it isn't good news, most of us would rather not hear it - especially if it means being able to avoid harsh realities.


This year's Chamber of Commerce's Scottsdale Forward was called "A Path for Progress and Economic Development." As usual, the annual event was reminiscent of a pep rally. Speakers, mostly plucked from the business community, agreed things couldn't be better.

If there's one thing we're good at in Scottsdale, it's bragging about our city - and how much better Scottsdale is than just about anywhere else.

Attendees got to hear that marquee events like Spring Training, the Waste Management Open and the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction are all setting attendance records. Rachel Sacco of Experience Scottsdale said the city's hotel growth is out-pacing the entire country's hotel industry. WestWorld is going great guns, according to Carter Unger, the late Fred Unger's son. He said the facility is operating at 95% efficiency.

City Manager Jim Thompson got into the action, too. He updated the group on Jerry Colangelo's mixed-use development coming to the nearly 30-acre Cracker Jax site on North Scottsdale Road. More hotels are also on the way in Old Town, as is a large retail-residential project in the Loloma area. 

But then, with a hint of reluctance and the risk of being a party pooper, Thompson told the audience that there was an 800lb gorilla. Actually a $800 million one. That's the amount necessary to address the city's infrastructure needs, which, Thompson explained, would require bonds that must be approved by voters.

If the results of the last three bond elections are an indicator, passing bonds will be difficult. Combining bond elections in 2010, 2013 and 2015, there were a total of 12 measures. Only two measures, road improvements and the construction of fire stations, passed. Both were approved in 2015. In 2010, the total bond package was $63 million. In 2013, it was $212 million. And in 2015 it was $96 million. If the City Council places a bond election on the November ballot, don't expect the bond package to be $800 million. The Council knows better.

It's important that taxpayers don't suffer sticker shock.

Next week councilmembers will engage in a work-study session on the infrastructure issue -- some of which will be about replacing old infrastructure and some of which will be about creating new infrastructure. The discussion is expected to be guided by the recommendations of the Capital Improvement Plan Subcommittee that's comprised of councilmembers Guy Phillips, Virginia Korte and David Smith.

The work-study session begins at 4PM Tuesday in the Kiva.